BRAND & CAMPAIGN STRATEGY
LIVE CLIENT / PITCH WINNER / 4 WEEK PROJECT
We invented a word to help redefine a region and showcase what makes it unique.
How can Virginia Tourism unite three towns in Southwest Virginia (Bristol, Abingdon and St. Paul) to bring more people to the area?
The Appalachian region carries some baggage. The term Appalachia comes with the stereotypes of backwoods, barren and unwelcoming.
When visiting, we didn't see those stereotypes at all. We saw the Appalachian spirit. The Appalachian spirit is resilient and proud of being from this region. It's a spirit that always welcomes you, just the way you are. It's a spirit unlike any other.
By highlighting that Appalachian spirit, we realized we could unite these three towns and own the conversation around Appalachia.
To do that, we invented a word as unique as the culture we encountered - Appalachiacana.
Appalachiacana derives from the Appalachian mountains and the word Americana which represents the history, geography, folklore and cultural heritage of the United States.
Throughout this project we saw the ways in which Appalachia has been defined by outside perceptions.
We created an open source brand with less emphasis on strict brand rules and more emphasis on the word itself. This allows the people of the area to define what Appalachiacana means to them.
To make this campaign successful we first had to get the communities of Bristol, Abingdon and St. Paul to believe in the brand and show off the Appalachian spirit that made the area so compelling.
To do that, we created internal brand assets to introduce the brand to the region and inspire pride amongst residents.
A bumper sticker that nods to the idea that this region can't be contained by labels.
License plates that let residents show off pride for their home.
BUILDING BRAND AMBASSADORS
Signs that welcome visitors to the region while creating visible boundaries.
To channel internal pride and share it with the world we created an Appalachiacana post card. These post cards will be provided in community spots such as coffee shops and stores. Residents are encouraged to send this to out-of-town friends or create "open invitations" that can be dropped off at designated locations and used as marketing pieces.
When planning vacations, 50% of people rely on recommendations from friends and family. 33% turn to social media and only 9% look at print ads (Mintel: Vacation Inspirations 2019).
With a small budget, we leaned into a series of experiential tactics that seek to attract and reward those that embody the Appalachian spirit while sparking conversations of the area.
We’ll place buskers in major cities within easy traveling distance to Appalachicana (Columbus, Washington, DC, Raleigh) playing the country and bluegrass music this area holds close to its heart.
When a person lingers a little too long, dancing, or gives the buskers a $20 instead of a $5, they have the Appalachian spirit and they’ll be rewarded with a trip to Appalachiacana.
Muddy ATV Activation
We’ll park muddy ATVs caked from the trails of St. Paul in the middle of busy urban areas and ask people to help us clean them. The person that stops, rolls up their suit sleeves, and gets a little muddy with us has the Appalachian spirit and will also be rewarded with a trip.
We created radio spots that tell small snippets of the larger than life and often unbelievable stories we heard throughout Appalachiacana.